ISWC Visits UAB to Tour Dr. Yogesh Vohra Labs

On Saturday, June 22, 2024, we had the pleasure of hosting the International Space Weather Camp (ISWC) group consisting of students from the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) as well as international students from South Africa and Germany along with six advisors. Dr. Keyvan Ghanbari, ISWC Camp Director and Laura Provenzani, NSF EPSCoR – FTPP Education, Outreach and Diversity Coordinator served as the organizers of the tour as part of the NSF EPSCoR Future Technologies Enabling Plasma Process (FTPP). Their first stop was a visit to the MakerSpace/3D printer lab. Dr. Vohra gave a  presentation on CVD Diamond Research. Afterwards the group of 30 were divided into 2 groups and were given tours of the CVD Diamond Growth Facility led by Dr. Paul Baker and the Materials Characterization lab (XRD on Diamond Coating on Silicone) led by Dr. Kallol Chakrabarty.  The entire visit took place in the new Science and Engineering Complex (SEC), South Science Hall (Hall). Since Graduate Assistant Greeshma Jose was working in Dr. Wenli Bi’s lab that day, she graciously accepted a Dr. Vohra’s request to give a guided tour of Dr. Bi’s lab. The group was engaging throughout their visit and generated great questions for the tour guides. According to Laura Provenzani, who organized the tour, the group was staying in Birmingham an extra day to take a break from their travel schedule and take the opportunity to explore the Magic City.  We’re so glad that they chose to include us.     
ISWC Visit
ISWC Visit
ISWC Visit
ISWC Visit

Congratulations to our 2023 REUs

We have some milestones to announce for our 2023 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Alumni. The following 2023 REUs received their undergraduate degrees this year. We know that they will be moving on to bigger and better things and we hope that we had some influence over their future in research as well as career choices.


Oscar Allen graduated May 2024 from Middle Tennesee State University with a B.S. in Physics. UAB REU Mentor, Dr. Pengfei Wang

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown graduated May 2024 from Savannah State University with a B.S. in Forensic Science. UAB REU Mentor, Dr. Eugenia Kharlampieva


Sophia Cornelius graduated from University of North Alabama with a degree in Engineering. She is currently a Masters candidate in Applied Manufacturing at University of North Alabama. UAB REU Mentor, Dr. Anna Sorace.

Isaac Mendez

Isaac Mendez graduated April 2024 from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in Physics. UAB REU Mentor, Dr. Wenli Bi


Jadyn Parker graduated April 2024 with a B.S. Engineering Design. She is currently M.S. student in Mechanical & Materials Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is supported by the DOE Center for Additively Manufactured Complex Systems Under Extremes (CAMCSE). In addition, Jadyn is currently employed as Material Design R&D Engineer at TruSpin Nanomaterial Innovation which is housed at the Innovation Depot. UAB REU Mentor, Dr. Haibin Ning


Wesley Sutton graduated May 2024 with a B.S. in Physics from Georgia College and State University. He began Graduate School at Notre Dame, June 2024. UAB REU Mentor, Dr. Yogesh K. Vohra, REU Program Director

Congratulations again to our REU Class of 2023 and graduating class of 2024. We wish you much success.

Congratulations 2023 REU Lea Hebert

Lea Hebert

Lea Hebert participated in our 2023 Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates at UAB. She placed second in the Undergraduate Oral Presentation: Nanoscience or Material Science Pollution/Toxic Substances/Waste category at the Emerging Researchers Nation Conference (ERN). This was Lea’s first time giving an oral presentation since coming to the U.S. She says it was a very exciting experience for her. We look forward to Lea making more presentations and doing great things.

Lea’s participation in the 2023 REU program was provided by the National Science Foundation (Grant#-2148653 – Future Technologies and Enabling Plasma Process (FTPP). Her REU mentors were Dr. Thomas Vinoy, Associate Professor, Mechanical & Materials Engineering and Renjith Pillai, Graduate Assistant, Mechanical & Materials Engineering.

2023 REU Maurissa Higgins Shares Her Experience at the March 2024 APS Conference

Written by Maurissa Higgins

Maurissa Higgins at APS Conference

University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 2023 NSF Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program allowed me the opportunity to grow my research skills and interpersonal connections. Over the ten weeks, I worked closely with Dr. Yogesh Vohra and Matthew Clay under the Department of Physics. During this time, I learned a great deal about condensed matter research and the common techniques used in modern research. I then applied what I learned in several ways throughout the summer, including analyzing X-Ray Diffraction data taken at the Argonne National Laboratory and taking Neutron Diffraction data at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

After the summer concluded, I expressed interest to Dr. Vohra and Matthew in presenting our results at a national conference, which led me to the APS March 2024 conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota where I participated in a poster expo. During the expo, I had the opportunity to talk about our work with other undergraduate students, graduate students, post-docs, and career professionals. Attendees possessed a range of understanding in condensed matter research, giving me the opportunity to practice presenting the research to a diverse audience.

In addition to presenting my own work, I also had the opportunity to hear about other ongoing projects and to discuss modern problems in physics. One of the most memorable discussions I participated in was “Addressing Misinformation about Science: Moving from Correction to Connection,” where I discussed strategies in communicating about misinformation with both people working inside and outside of science fields. One unique project I had the opportunity to hear about and which I would be interested in pursuing in the future was research being conducted on clouds and hazes and molecules in exoplanet atmospheres with a focus of applications to understanding the development of our own atmosphere.

In the past few months, I’ve learned about my own interests and strengths and have grown my research and interpersonal skills thanks to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Summer REU. I can’t wait to see how these experiences will change and impact my future in physics.

UAB REU Goes to Lawson State Community College

Dr. Shawanda Thomas, STEM Director & Mathematics Instructor, at Lawson State Community College was kind enough to invite us to talk to the Lawson State STEM Scholars Program about our REU program.  In attendance from our program was Charita H. Cadenhead, REU Program Coordinator, Kayla Hardrick (Miles College 2022 REU), Jayden Parker (UAB 2023 REU), Kyla Smith (Lawson State Community College 2022 REU) and Isaiah Bastien (Lawson State Community College 2023 REU). Jaydyn Parker gave an a 3-minute poster presentation of her REU research project titled “Flammability Study of 3D Printed Continuous Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastic Composites for Space Application.”  Kayla Hardwick and Kyla Smith were on hand to answer any questions that the program had about their REU experiences.  Afterwards there were a number of excellent questions from the class about the program and we are hopeful that we will have several Lawson State Community College students applying to our program again this year.
Kyla Smith, 2022 REU has been quite busy since taking part in our program. During the Emerging Researcher’s National Conference in STEM (February 9-11, 2023, Washington, DC), she placed 2nd in the Chemistry and Chemical Science Category for her REU research poster titled “Characterization of Poly- (D,L-lactic acid)/ Titania Nanocomposite Microparticles for Photocatalytic Degradation of Organic Contaminants in Water.” Outside of her UAB REU Project, as a student representing Lawson State Community College, she received the 2022-23 American Heart Association’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Scholars Program Award. According to the 2023 STEMPOSIUM Magazine, Kyla took part in an academic-year research experience, engaged in virtual leadership workshops, and attended the AHA’s International Scientific Sessions, the largest cardiovascular disease conference in the world.
Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Dobbins (Samford STEM Scholars Director) and Ms. Velester Debro (STEM Grant Coordinator) from Samford University were also in attendance to make a presentation to the STEM Scholars Program. Many thanks also to Lawson State’s STEM Assistant, Jean Whitlow, for making sure that logistically, everything went smoothly (oh and of course for the pizza).
LSCC Visit
Shawanda Thomas, Ph.D. (Center)
STEM Director & Mathematics Instructor
Lawson State Community College
LSCC Visit
Jadyn Parker (2023 REU) Prepares to present her poster to LSCC STEM class.
LSCC Visit
Isiah Bastien (2023 REU) joins Jadyn Parker (REU 2023) on stage
LSCC Visit
STEM Class at Lawson State Community College
LSCC Visit
REU Alumni (l-r): Kyla Smith (2022), Kayla Hardrick (2022) Jadyn Parker (2023), Isiah Bastien (2023)

Congratulations to CNMB’s Drs. Kharlampieva & Wasko

Join the Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration (CNMB) in congratulating members Dr. Eugenia Kharlampieva and Molly Wasko who will be helping the National Science Foundation decide how to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to build the technologies of the future (The UAB Reporter). Dr. Kharlampieva is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry as well as the Co-Director of the CNMB and Dr. Wasko is University Professor/Associate Dean, Collat School Of Business Dean’s Office.

Their roles as program directors through NSF’s rotator program, will be integral in magnifying UAB’s existing reputation as an outstanding research institution. The rotator program is designed to bring practicing scientists into the upper echelon of scientific decision-making in the United States, where they work alongside the agency’s permanent staff.

As reported in the UAB Reporter, according to Dr. Kharlampieva, “This experience is unique and exciting and really puts you out of your comfort zone.,” In September 2023, the NSF invested $72.5 million through the DMREF in 37 new four-year projects. Kharlampieva helped to select those recipients, whose projects include designing the next generation of rechargeable batteries, organic semiconductor systems, AI-enabled automated design of ultra-strong and ultra-elastic metallic alloys, and fast energy storage. Although much of the work is administrative — selecting expert participants in grant panels, following up with principal investigators on their progress and notifying those not selected — “I am always a scientist first,” Kharlampieva said. “This keeps me on the cutting edge of research and in knowing how to find the best science.”

You can read the full story here.